Sunday, May 30, 2010

Late Autumn Early Winter Menu

Our latest menu photos are finally back from development after having been tweaked by the eagle-eye of Travis.

These dishes are the next evolution at Piccalilly after we have refined and tweaked things that we like, diners like and just things we wanted to try on the unsuspecting! We have kept a few old favourites on the menu too.

These, as they always do, come from Shellfish On Bruny and the delightful Hedley. The oyster farm is located on the northern shore of Great Bay on Bruny Island. Hedley is a very small producer and has an amazing attention to detail. We think his oysters are the best in Tasmania, and at this time of year they are at their best. The water is very cold at the moment (so Hedley tells us when a wave washes over the top of his waders) and cold water is capable of holding a lot more dissolved oxygen. The more oxygen in the water the more micro-organisms are able to flourish, thereby creating more food for the oysters and causing them to put on fat and condition. We know you know what oysters look like, but we thought Hedley might like to see them on the web and professionally photographed. One oyster is topped with the old favourite – shallot and red wine vinaigrette. We use South Australian Pendleton merlot vinegar; it’s an agro-dulce style and has the most intense deep colour.

The other oyster topping is a honey emulsion. Hedley sources a spikey box honey that the Bruny bees make from flowers that skirt Great Bay overlooking the oysters. We think it’s a nice synergy and the honey tastes beautiful. We emulsify it with lots of black pepper, Ashbolt olive oil and lemon juice.

This has been a staple on the Piccalilly menu for a couple of years. This incarnation, a ceviche, uses some flavours we have paired with kingfish before - yuzu and pickled white radish. This time however we have replaced the soy sauce with white miso. We’ve filtered it to make it clear and gelled it to form a skin. The fish and radish are tangled together, and (here’s the ceviche part) we added a pipette filled with yuzu, chardonnay vinegar and olive oil. The pipette is aimed at the center of the kingfish tangle and when it is squeezed, the acid begins curing the fish. Green chilli oil rounds out the dish.

Fish & Onions.
Local white fish in this case flathead with onions and red onion essence.

The onions:
Brown onions - caramelized and pureed
Spring onions - glazed
Red onions – raw
Shallots – sous vide, raw and crispy
White onions – pickled
Garlic – confit.

The red onion essence is simple but effective. Red onions are roasted in their skins at 250 degrees for 40 minutes, peeled and frozen into a Pacojet canister, frozen and ‘pacotized’. The essence is then simply allowed to defrost in a fine paper filter. The syrupy and sweet liquid that drips through, away from the solids is what we use.

It sounds complicated because there are so many bits, but it’s simply fish with an onion salad and onion sauce.

Beef Tongue.
The tongue is first brined and sous vide for 24 hours at 70 degrees. It’s then cooled and sliced by hand. It is then garnished with lemon panagrata; mustard seed vinaigrette; dry sherry jelly; English mustard butter; parsley emulsion; roast carrot oil; shallot; and currant chutney.

Tongue is a very fatty and rich meat so it needs something to cut it. The flavours all match tongue well and we have just played with textures. Crunchy, soft, oily, meaty etc.

The goat is the evolution of our last Mediterranean-inspired dish. We have kept the chickpea and garlic puree and cucumber, but have added a kind of tabbouleh. Black rice, pearl barley, burghul, faro, and black, red and white quinoa are combined and mixed with parsley oil. Also labneh, mint and a little brown chicken reduction. (Labneh is a Middle-Eastern yoghurt cheese)

The cucumber is a simple foam of juiced cucumber and salt. Cucumber contains a lot of natural lectin, a natural emulsifier that holds a frothy foam - in fact all melons do (yes, cucumber is a melon). Watermelon works very well like this. Egg yolks also have high levels of lectin hence they hold a foam – for example in a  sabayon for the start of a sponge cake.

The goat shoulder is cooked sous vide on the bone for around 30 hours (depending on size) at 68 degrees. It’s then torn up by hand and flashed in a very hot pan to crisp it slightly.

Goat and tebbouleh, simple!

Daube of beef isn’t an evolution from the last menu, as such. More a devolution. The last version was comprised of the same items minus the potatoes but we gelled the horseradish custard. This time its back to its bare form. The beef is Nicholls Rivulet Organic spare rib and cooked sous vide for around 40 hours. The red wine and shallot sauce is probably the richest we have ever served at Piccalilly  and it is paired with confit potatoes and baked shallots.

Banana Smoothie.
Kind of a combination of a smoothie and a banana split - we have malt powder, toasted walnuts and banana milk froth; and banana mousse made from whipped cream and confit bananas and caramalised milk ice cream. The lactose in the milk, along with a little bit of sugar caramalises over a long period of time (12-14 hours) on a very low heat. The sweetness is balanced by naturally occurring fatty acid and lactic acid that reduce during cooking and add a slight tartness.

Thai-spiced Sago with Rhubarb.
To start this one we infuse milk with chilli, lemongrass, star anise, clove, ginger and kaffir lime leaves for a couple of hours. We then soak and cook the sago in the infused milk once the aromatics are sieved out.

Nicholls Rivulet Organic Rhubarb (yes they produce beef and rhubarb) is poached very gently at 85 degrees for about 5 minutes with some ginger and vanilla.

The dish is finished with vanilla crème anglaise.

Yoghurt Pannacotta with Various Textures of Yoghurt.
We use both cow and sheep milk yoghurt in this dish. The star of the show, the pannacotta is made from sheep’s milk. We use the Meredith’s pot-set variety, which comes in very thick - reminiscent of good buffalo mozzarella. It is very fatty and much sweeter than cow’s milk yoghurt, but still sour enough. We infuse it with tonka bean and vanilla and add a tiny amount of gelatin. It barely requires gelatin because it’s so thick to start with.

Very thick sheep's milk yoghurt. They usually stock this at Salamanca Fruit Market

Yoghurt and honey sorbet - sheep 
labneh - cow
marshmallows - cow 
granita - sheep 
There is also a drop of elderberry syrup for colour.

And a little extra one. 
This dish isn't on the menu but it was one of the specials on the day the photos were taken so we thought we should get a record of it.

Wagyu beef brisket with chlorophyll vinaigrette and jerusalem artichoke puree.

The wagyu, 9+ marble score, was sous vide for around 50 hours at 62 degrees so it is still a little bit pink but soft. Chlorophyll is extracted from spinach (it takes about a kilo of spinach to produce 20 grams of chlorophyll) and emulsified with red wine vinegar and a little bit of olive oil. It is brilliant green and provides acid to cut through the richness of the beef.

Jerusalem artichokes grown by Elysia's father were perfect and so fresh that they were still white on the skin, they are simply sous vide to protect their white colour and pureed with a little bit of salt.

Finally ribbons of soy sauce, yuzu and ginger set with agar-agar so they won't melt.

These photographs were taken by Travis Hutchins. Travis is a graphic designer and is currently working at Saunders Signs  in Margate specialising in large scale signage. They also handle other branding including logo production. If you need signage we highly recommend speaking to Travis at Saunders however if you would like to speak to him in a freelance capacity for photography and design, feel free to contact us for his details.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Sunny North

The weekend just gone saw Elysia and Iain head north to Launceston for a weekend away. As usual with these things we awoke early after a late finishing Saturday night's service and hit the road at about 9:00 to try and make the most of our time.

We assumed that the roads would be dead quiet due to it being a Sunday, and they were - however most of the roads near our house were blocked off due to the City To Casino fun-run. We were unable to get into Battery Point to drop the clean linen back at work and were forced to join the Midlands Highway via Old Beach.

Once we had cleared the vast road works at Brighton it was smooth sailing with barely any traffic and not a cloud in the sky. We pulled in to Perth,  south of Launceston just in time for the breakfast menu at Ut Si, a cafe located in a lovely old church and owned/operated by fellow-blogger Colette. The church is pearly white both inside and out and filled with the most stunning timber furniture constructed from recycled bits of railway bridge. The only disappointing thing was that the long shared table was so packed with gossiping, latte-swilling ladies that we could not see the polished top in its full glory.

The outside of Ut Si

The wonderful dining room

Ut Si's pride and joy is their little wood-fired oven located just outside the back door in the middle of their kitchen garden. We ordered juice and coffee while we waited for our food to come out of the tiny open kitchen tucked into a corner of the building.

The menu is comprised of eight or so creative café-style dishes ranging from three-grain porridge to a duck-egg omelet. We, however, opted to try the sardines on toast and the baked eggs with Black Forrest  Smallgoods venison chorizo. We also couldn't go past the Pyengana Real Milk and vanilla ice cream milkshake.

Food arrived, it was beautifully presented - the eggs just set and crispy edged in a heavy cast iron ramekin with some of their hand-made and wood-fired grainy bread on the side. The sardines were also stylish, served still in their tin with the lid peeled half way back and most of the oil drained off, with spoonfuls of black olive tapenade and a sweet/sour green tomato relish.

Eggs, baked with chorizo and chick peas

The sardines presentation

The eggs half eaten

Soft and lovely sardines

And the tastes? Wonderful! The whites were soft and glassy, yolks heated just enough to thicken them but not to cook them, the chorizo added a meatiness and chewiness and ‘tomatoey’ chick peas rounded out and moistened the dish, which stayed hot for a very long time due to its thickly-walled cast iron home. The sardines were of course fantastic - fishy and oily, cut perfectly by the accompaniments and smeared onto slices of grainy buttered toast.

We lingered over the food for far too long enjoying every little bit and finishing our milkshakes before catching up with Colette and getting a tour of the wood oven from her noisy motorcycle-riding leather jacket-wearing father, who told us it was him who lights the logs each morning to allow the stones to heat up enough for the bread to bake. Even though the coals had been swept from the oven hours ago, it was still holding a temperature of around 160 degrees. Walking back to the car we realised that milkshakes are probably a bit much for our grown up tummys but thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast and were looking forward to the remainder of the weekend.

Next we headed to Josef Chromy to taste some of their current vintage wines. We were surprised to see that the only available parking was now out on the road alongside a friendly brown horse because of the number of cars already packing the little car park. The building is a special one, an old colonial farmhouse with very well-kept gardens. The place was packed! We approached the tasting bar, which doubles as the reservations area for the restaurant where we could see a glimpse of the gleaming new kitchen amidst bustling waiters.

 Joseph Chromy and its garden

Realising that it probably wasn’t the best time to do a wine tasting we wandered out determined to come back at a quieter time and see for ourselves what draws so many people there.

As usually happens to us on these trips the next thing we did was to get lost. No technology to blame this time, as we did not bring the GPS, but we decided to try and skirt around the side of Launceston and effortlessly join up to the East Tamar Highway to the City's north and then visit some more vineyards. And lost we got, -but after over an hour and 10km of dirt roads later we joined the elusive highway just south of Lilydale.

The experience wasn't a total loss however, with no appointments or deadlines to meet it was a lovely opportunity to see some of Tasmania’s lesser-used roads that are fun to drive on one of the most beautiful Autumn days in the history of the world. Not a breath of wind, or a cloud to be seen. it became very obvious to us how different the northern Tasmanian summer had been to the one we enjoyed in the south.

Pastures were glossy and green, cattle and sheep were plump, birds and insects filled the air and many, many brown furry critters had met an untimely demise along the roadsides - in comparison to the south where pasture is yellow, stock are boney and there is rarely a critter to be seen.

Gleaming threads of spiders’ web drifted through the still air illuminated by the lowering sun as we pulled up to the first of our cellar door stops at Delamere just near the Batman Bridge on the eastern side of the Tamar. They are one of our favourites for their sparklings. We tasted the range and particularly enjoyed the 2007 Pinot Noir and 2008 chardonnay. We talked at length to the cellar hand who was busily hand labeling bottles and admired the flock of around 20 or so tasty-looking guinea fowl who were expectantly looking through the door of the cellar apparently asking to be fed for the third time that day.

The path in to Delamere 

 Guinea fowl!
Heading south again the next stop was Dalrymple vineyard. Its new owners have installed lovely heavy timber gates and re-routed the winding driveway to now slice through the vineyard itsself rather than the straight gravel road as it once was. Only two wines to taste here but both were lovely - a young and zippysavignon blanc and a toasty pinot noir.

The driveway at Dalrymple

Further south to the imposing building of Pipers Brook where we again tasted the full range but without any real stand-outs from the current releases, but a couple of impressive back-vintages of the Cabenet/merlot blend that they no longer make after grafting the old rootstock. Pipers Brook has just completed their first organic vintage, signifying what will hopefully be a positive new direction for the winery.

 Pipers Brook avenue driveway

A couple of hundred metres down the driveway is Jansz. The sparkling-only producer simply makes a non-vintage brut and a non-vintage rose. They then do some more serious vintage and late-disgorged versions. We tend to steer away from Jansz at restaurants and bottle shops because it's always so consistent and we tend to favour more interesting bottles. The simple non -intage though, was an absolute knock-out it was dry, fruity and spicy, well-balanced and simply stunning. Well done Jansz, we will give it a second look in future.

Iain doing his "Jansz dance" 

The flock of plump geese at Janz

This is the subtle sign that marks the entrance to Pipers and Jansz on the highway

The sun was setting rapidly as we drove up to our final stop for the day Brook Eden Vineyard. One of our favourites, this very small vineyard is run by a couple who live on site and produce some lovely wines. A cracking rich, dry-style rose and a nicely balanced chardonnay that was treated with wood but in a very restrained way.

Now nearly dark as we approached Launceston we had been driving for 7 hours and now looking forward to lighting a fire and opening the bottle of 2002 late disgorged Jansz we had bought. Thyme Cottage, just past the park was where we had booked to stay. A very sweet little terrace house with lovely old furniture, a claw-footed bathtub and thick downy doonas on the bed where we had stayed a few years previously. We lit the fire and got it roaring while we enjoyed the sparkles and relaxed for half an hour before we had to get ready and embark on the 10 minute walk to Black Cow Bistro for dinner.

The courtyard at Thyme Cottage

 Some of the brekky stuff

Black Cow, run by the team responsible for the famous Stillwater plus some vigorous new blood, was the main reason for our trip north because we had heard so many good things about it. It did not disappoint. 

We started with a dozen oysters prepared in four ways. Natural; with a shallot and red wine vinaigrette; pickled ginger and yellow rock sugar; and a cheese gratinated - cheddar and hollandaise. We don't normally like cooked oysters so were a bit reluctant to try the gratin, however on tasting it, the oyster was not cooked but warmed, the fatty layer of cheese insulating it from the heat of the grill. It was beautiful - fatty, cheesey, salty and interesting a real stand-out.

Black Cow oysters

Next we shared jamon serano with wild olives and crisp chibatta. The ham was good, unfortunately a couple of slices still had  chewy rind but this was of little concern. Tangled up with the ham were small. good-quality cherry tomatoes that had been pickled during tomato season to preserve them. The tomatoes and olives served to cut the richness of the dried ham and contributed some different textures. We lingered over this dish (served on a plank that had been removed from a Penfold's Grange crate), while we finished our pinot in preparation for zinfandel with the beef course.


We should pause here and tell those who haven't been to Black Cow what it's all about. Located in Lucks Corner in the CBD of Launceston, this little restaurant has been laid out just as you would expect a Bistro to be. Bench seating the length of one wall and small tables clothed with the obligatory paper laid over the top. The chairs are timber and the floor is also bare with a shiny finish. The walls are pasted with commissioned artworks, featuring (you guessed it) black cows in the style you might normally associate with ancient French cave paintings. The floor staff are in black bibbed aprons that cross at the back over a startling white shirt - classic style. The menu is comprised, as you also might expect, mainly of beef in varying sizes, cuts and styles from different producers and butchers with little else (plus a couple of entree options). You get beef... cooked perfectly and a modern version of pommes duchesse. Everything else you are free to add as you choose.

Our beef arrived, A vast rib-eye and a not so vast but superb scotch fillet. we supplemented these with horseradish, demi glase, truffled bernaise, baked mushrooms, cauliflower gratin, and shredded iceberg lettuce with pickled shallots. A bit piggy you are thinking... yes... yes it was but we were so keen to see as much of the menu as we could. We tried valiantly to finish it all but it could simply not be done. Both pieces of beef were pink, juicy and tasty, with charred bar markings on their exteriors -simply perfect. The sides were interesting and also cooked with skill. 

Big rib-eye

 Black Cow sides

All in all, taking the unobtrusive well-informed and helpful service, Black Cow is a force to be reckoned with. Far beyond anything we would call a steak house here in Hobart. The Stillwater team have executed the concept with style and ease.

The walk back to Thyme Cottage was a lot colder and somewhat slower and less directed, but we were pleased to find the fire still glowing so we loaded it up and flopped onto the soft bed.

Day two again started early with a brisk and very cold walk up to the top of Charles Street to Tant Pour Tant. A must-visit when in Launceston, this tiny patisserie serves up good European-style bread and pastries, and a big selection of slick-looking cakes and gateaux. 

Unassuming exterior

We looked over the breakfast menu that has moved beyond the old eggs of your choice with your choice of accompaniments. We chose soft polenta with  truffle and poached eggs and Black Forest Smallgoods streaky bacon with gruyere in a soft panini. Again Launceston delivered interesting, tasty food. We left the shop with a box of treats and headed up the Tamar again, but this time on the western bank.

Panini with bacon and silky scrambled eggs

Polenta - yum yum

Our treats, pain au chocolat, brioche with jam and creme patisserie, chocolate eclair, and  "le Framboise" which just picked up top gold at the 2010 Dairy Industry Awards

First stop was Velo. We love these wines and were looking forward to seeing their origins. The best part of visiting cellar doors at this time of year, after the tourists have disappeared, is that most of the time, its the wine maker who is pouring the tastes. You get all the inside information on each wine and we were privileged to hear the ins-and-outs of the 2010 vintage that was fermenting just behind us at several of the sheds we visited.


At Velo we were very impressed, as we have been with past vintages, with the shiraz. We know what you're thinking, "Tasmanian shiraz, no thanks" but this is consistently ripe, rich and big so we suggest giving it a go if you see it on a list somewhere.

Next stop was the spectacularly-vistaed Goaty Hill. Looking out over the valley and the Tamar Ridge factory, this is one of the largest privately-owned vineyards in Tasmania. Its well worth looking out for chardonnay and Riesling, and if you are up that way a sit on the balcony looking at that view would make the drive worthwhile.

Moores Hill, famous for their riesling was to be our final stop before lunch. The riesling is a lovely one and the cabernet blend is also worth a look. 

Moores Hill cellar door 

Moores Hill winery dog - very friendly

The one thing we have gathered from the many wine makers and owners we spoke to was that the 2010 vintage was a difficult one. Unlike the southern vineyards that remained hot and dry, the north was devastated by a week of rain just before picking. Rot and mildew combined with wasps (this year in plague proportions) made everyone remember that wine-making and vineyards is simply glorified farming and that the un-controllable elements can be very damaging. We hope the 2010 vintage while low-yielding is a cracker.

Lunch, back towards Launceston, was at Daniel Alps's Strathlyn. A very small and simple menu offered pork belly with peppery roquette and a classic osso bucco with mashed potatoes. The dining room was quiet so we had barely tucked into crusty bread rolls when the food arrived: rustic, simple, and cooked skillfully. Great ingredients combine to produce something that should be available everywhere but, sadly, is not, was a real treat. It’s not modern by any stretch but it doesn’t claim to be, Great comfort food, superb ingredients and a view to die for.

Strathlyn's oaky entrance

The pork belly with organic roquette

Osso bucco 

Now full of rich food and good wine from this great Tasmanian region we were ready to head home via the newly opened Red Bridge Cafe and Providore in Campbell Town. The building, a huge sandstone warehouse, used to be an antique shop until quite recently and Red Bridge has only been open for about 12 weeks. The interior of the building is decked out with a lot of old furniture, and vegies are displayed in vintage apple crates and copper pans of all shapes, sizes and ages that hang from the ceiling. The triumph however is an ancient chemists' chest of drawers mounted height on the wall behind the counter. 72 individually labeled drawers with a golden patina and cut glass knobs. Very beautiful. 

The shop itself stocks locally-grown fruit and vegies as well as wine and deli type nibbles. Around the corner in another wing of the barn is a cafe. Again decked out with old tables and chairs, including both polished oak and scrubbed Huon Pine, to pick out just a couple. It is warm from the fire crackling in one corner and still displays the whitewashed timber rafters and braces that support the high roof.

Well worth a look - Red Bridge and their copper pans

Still full from lunch we didn't stop for anything to eat, but did raid the shop for ingredients to cook dinner. We will be back for lunch though. Well worth a look next time you head through Campbell Town - lets hope the locals support it!

Despite the loss of Fee & Me and Don Cameron's departure form Stillwater Launceston's food/wine seems to be moving long just fine with great things happening and still worth the drive.